U18s ready for tonight

Academy Director Tony Carr and his West Ham United Under-18 squad are ready to resume their quest to win the FA Youth Cup with the visit of Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.

The Seagulls will visit the Boleyn Ground for a fourth-round tie, and Carr is confident his players have what it takes to win the match and reach the last-16. The tie has to be played to a finish on the night, with extra time and penalties possible. The winners will play away at either Norwich City or Chelsea, who also meet on Wednesday.

Under the watchful eyes of Carr and U18s coach Nick Haycock, the squad held a specially-arranged training session at the Boleyn Ground on Tuesday to help the youngsters ready themselves for the big match at the same venue.


"We held our final training session at the Boleyn Ground to familiarise the players with the pitch and the stadium," Carr told West Ham TV. "Some of them have never played there, despite having played for the club for many years.

"We don't get the opportunity to do so unless we get to the latter stages of the Youth Cup, so we're leaving no stone unturned to try to get the right result on Wednesday night. We won 3-2 at Chelsea on Saturday and nicked it in the last minute of the game, which was a little bit fortunate, but we managed to come out on top and we move on from there.

"We were beaten 1-0 by Manchester United in the fourth round last season and it rankled us for a little while because it was a great opportunity and we played well enough in the second half of that game to certainly not have lost it. That's in the annals of history now and we're working with a new group and on a new run and hopefully we can beat Brighton and get into the next round."

The Hammers produced an outstanding team performance to win 3-2 at Wolverhampton Wanderers in the third round. Carr believes it will be a collective achievement if West Ham are to reach the fifth round this time around.

At the same time, the presence of third-round match-winners Elliot Lee and Kenzer Lee and first-team squad members Dan Potts and Rob Hall will no doubt boost the hosts' chances of advancing.

"I think the way to achieve success is a team effort. Players will score, contribute and do their bit, but we certainly won't do anything unless we get eleven players out there doing everything they can together as a team to make it happen.

"We've been preaching team effort, but if a bit of individual flair and someone makes or scores a goal or makes a fantastic save, that's all part of the team effotrt and we'll succeed that way.

"The manager wants us to put the strongest-possible team out whenever we can and wants us to have as long a run as we can. We're going to do everything we can to get into the next round."

Brighton will be no easy nut to crack, however, having defeated Aston Villa's storied Academy side in the third round.

"Aston Villa are one of the top Academies in the country and have a very good set-up and have produced players over many, many years.

"For Brighton to beat Villa is no mean task. We'll give them the necessary respect, but we will certainly try to make sure it's West Ham in the next round."

*Tickets for Wednesday's tie at the Boleyn Ground are priced at £3 Adults and £1 Concessions. The Alpari Stand turnstiles 13,14 and 15 will be open from 6pm.